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Open Access 09-05-2024 | Original Article

Verbal learning in frontal patients: area 9 is critical for employing semantic strategies

Authors: Alessandro Cocuzza, Giulio Bertani, Giorgio Conte, Edoardo Nicolò Aiello, Barbara Zarino, Teresa Difonzo, Stefano Zago, Leonardo Tariciotti, Claudia Gendarini, Elena Baratelli, Federico Verde, Barbara Poletti, Nicola Ticozzi, Mauro Pluderi, Marco Locatelli, Giacomo Pietro Comi, Maria Cristina Saetti

Published in: Neurological Sciences

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Abstract

Introduction

Learning is a long-term memory process heavily influenced by the control processes implemented by working memory, including recognition of semantic properties of items by which subjects generate a semantic structure of engrams.

Aim

The aim of this study is to investigate the verbal learning strategies of patients affected by a tumor in the left frontal lobe to highlight the role of area 9.

Method

Ten patients with frontal low-grade gliomas and ten healthy control subjects, matched for age, sex and education, were recruited and then evaluated with a two-part verbal learning test: multi-trial word list learning in free recall, and multi-trial word list learning preceded by an explicit semantic strategy cue. Frontal patients were divided into two groups: those either with frontal lesions involving or sparing area 9.

Results

In comparison to healthy control subjects, frontal patients with lesions involving area 9 memorized fewer words and displayed difficulty in using semantic strategies. When the strategy was suggested by the examiner, their performance improved, but to a lesser extent than the healthy control. Conversely, frontal patients with lesions sparing area 9 showed similar results to healthy control subjects.

Conclusion

The results suggested that, while the identification of the categorical criterion requires the integrity of the entire dorsolateral prefrontal area, only area 9, and not the surrounding areas, could be responsible for the effective use of semantic strategies in learning tasks.
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Metadata
Title
Verbal learning in frontal patients: area 9 is critical for employing semantic strategies
Authors
Alessandro Cocuzza
Giulio Bertani
Giorgio Conte
Edoardo Nicolò Aiello
Barbara Zarino
Teresa Difonzo
Stefano Zago
Leonardo Tariciotti
Claudia Gendarini
Elena Baratelli
Federico Verde
Barbara Poletti
Nicola Ticozzi
Mauro Pluderi
Marco Locatelli
Giacomo Pietro Comi
Maria Cristina Saetti
Publication date
09-05-2024
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Published in
Neurological Sciences
Print ISSN: 1590-1874
Electronic ISSN: 1590-3478
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10072-024-07569-7